Disruptive rewriting with Helen Palmer – 9 October 2019

Chris Palmer had requested a large and enthusiastic audience for this workshop and by the time he introduced his daughter Helen on Wednesday evening he was not disappointed. A published writer with books on philosophy, a swimmer, a boxer, a university lecturer and now in the final stages of producing her first novel.

At once an engaging and thought-provoking session, Helen presented new insights on how to rewrite and disrupt established literature using a technique called Biomythography. Coined by African American writer Audre Lorde it marries both biography and mythography to craft new stories often to give voice to those that are not heard or those that have been excluded. Helen’s first fictional work Pleasure Beach is inspired by James Joyce’s novel Ulysses which in turn was a modern interpretation of Homer’s epic poem. It follows the life of two nineteen year old girls through a single day in 1999. They lead wildly different lives and their paths have only crossed by chance.

The author treated us to three readings from her novel. There is a poetic and rhythmic quality to her prose; in particular the final reading based on the book’s ending exemplified this perfectly with its stream of consciousness flowing through the narration – mesmerising and haunting in equal measure. This was a powerful way to learn about the creative process that Helen has employed and together with her open and honest responses to questions for me it was the highlight of the evening. It was also clear that the audience were enraptured with the subject matter at hand and fully participated in every aspect.

We were also let loose and given the opportunity to employ these new rewriting techniques using the classic tale of Hansel and Gretal. Honing our skills while our creative juices flowed the group produced a wide range of new stories that crossed many genres and styles. This ranged from political satire and Brexit to crime and even poetry.

To most of us Biomythography is a new concept and now we will be inspired to make use of this technique in our future writing endeavours.

Ajay Joglekar

6 comments

  1. Great blog Ajay, thank you. I’m sorry I missed the evening.

  2. Maggie Bolton

    Sounds like a fascinating evening. I’m sorry I missed it.
    Maggie

  3. Joanne Bailey

    Excellant blog, Well captured Ajay.

  4. Rhona Anderson

    Ayr Writers’ Club gets THE BEST speakers and last Wednesday was no exception.
    Helen’s workshop was entertaining, thought-provoking and fun.
    It was great to have the opportunity to try the technique for ourselves.

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